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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3561 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Greenpeace rejoices after getting huge renewable powerplant CANCELLED

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Happy

Re: And who will not be happy

Neil Barnes,

From the openining sentence of your post, I thought you were going to go in a different dirction there. So when you say that "I'd like to take each and every member of the 'environmentalist' lobby, strip them naked," - I thougtht you were going to continue: And turn them into sausages.

Didn't you do the live below the line £1 a day eating challenge this year? Were you really missing meat that badly? I guess anyone could, with sufficient provocation, decide that human meat can be both free range, and free. Leaving your £5 to spend on veg and rice.

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Re: Lower CO2 emissions maybe

There's got to be a cost in methane production. Although does all the methane bubble through the water and reach the atmosphere, or how much of it gets trapped in the sludge on the bottom?

Anyway, I can't believe those figures. You could chop down a bunch of the vegetation if it's that bad. But the methane cost is a one-off. Once you've built a hydro-electric dam you've basically got carbon free electricity for ever. Sure you may have to keep repairing the dam, and buy new generators and impellors, but that's never going to have the same cost in methane.

So that argument sounds like the kind of bollocks that the anti-fun anti-modern economy type campaigners go for. Where nuclear isn't green, because it uses lots of concrete, hydro isn't green because methane - so either move to a mud hut or kill yourself for Gaia.

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Debunking Jimbo: Slippery Google tries to evade European privacy

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Re: So in summary...

No. If Google just allow anyone's request without complaining that's OK. They're a company out to make a profit, and all's fine and dandy. However they then have to lose the preaching schtick, about freedom and opportunity for all, and the internet as the saviour of everything etc.

There's also no problem if Google go with some, and appeal others. That's what the information commissioners are supposed to be there for.

The point is that it would be nice if everyone was honest, and called a spade a spade. So Google could say this is bad, it'll hurt our profits. But instead they pay sock-puppets, often claiming to be independent and disinterested internet experts, to cry wolf - and shout how this is the end of the internet as we know it. Which they've said on a few issues now.

And they try to claim that somehow the law doesn't apply to them, because... the internet. Well bugger that for a game of soldiers. They make tens of billions of profits a year - I don't argue if they can find legal ways to avoid tax - but they make loads of money from the EU market, so they can obey the law like the rest of us, or fuck off and do without the cash. Them's the choices. If they don't like the law, they've got plenty of cash for lobbying to get it changed. And they're not shy of deploying it.

The "Don't be Evil" tag has been used as a stick to beat them with, because they sometimes have been evil. Or at least nasty, dishonest and creepy. Andrew O does seem to have an anti-Google thing going, but I can't remember him being unfair or inaccurate in any of his articles about them, and he's a useful antidote to all the know-nothing media-wankers who keep blathering on about how great they are all the time.

Not that Google aren't also great too. They've done some brilliant stuff. The creepy way they've built an army of smartphones into a global remote sensor network has also given us some brilliant features in Google Maps, local search, traffic reporting etc. They've bet billions of dollars on the technology panning out, and reaped the rewards. I'd say the loss of privacy is somewhat worth it for the services provided - and you have a choice to not use Google's services if you don't think so.

But it seems to me that The Register has a balance of writers and opinions on most subjects. And you know what you'll get if you read an Orlowski article on Google. Unless you can point out to me things he's said that are factually inaccurate? In which case I'll happily join you in having a go at Andrew myself. Since I went to a Register do, he's now got my phone number. So he can probably track me down and have The Register's sinister attack troops bump me off. But I'll happily take the risk of a Playmonaut hitting me at Mach 2 for truth and justice...

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The media do love their darlings (and their hate figures). Andt there's a horrible tendency to hunt, and defend, in packs. Although to be fair, there are always lone voices, and some media organisations do consciously try to allow for dissenters to get time. The Beeb, for example, often seems to have a party line, but there's usually someone challenging it somewhere.

At the moment it's Google, and Twitter, still Wikipedia, but Facebook gets less love and more mixed messages. I can still remember the early days of New Labour. Blair was often given an easy ride, but always had opponents. Gordon Brown was given almost blanket praise by almost everybody. I guess in his case it was partly through having the most aggressive spin machine (Damian McBride, Ed Balls, Charlie Wheelan etc.). So I guess there's a good comparison with Google, who are very good at getting the message out there - although I suspect they probably say "Fuck" a lot less, eat fewer pies, wear better suits, and don't push people up against walls...

A nice piece by the way Mr O. It's often the sign of a bad interview / interviewer, when it takes as much space to write down the questions as it does the answers. That's often a sign that the interviewer is pushing their point just as much as the interviewee.

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The danger is not when Google says "no", the danger is when Google (and others) cannot be bothered to say anything other than "yes". And why should they when saying "no" is going to cost them more money.

If Google stops being a good search engine, and a competitor is willing to spend that money, then Google will lose most of its advertising revenue. Which is still massively dominated by its near-monopoly in search. Google makes loadsa' money from search, so I have very little sympathy if they have to absorb some costs while complying with the law.

Admittedly you do have a point. But then that's the problem with having competing interests. Google try to portray the world as having this one great thing (the internets), and any even minor threat to that must therefore be a bad thingTM. Well it's a balance. At the moment there's a good argument to say that we allow too little control of to people of information about them. Thus we should consider giving them more control. But that will obviously have downsides, and we'll never get the balance right. Becuase there is no perfect balance. We'll just have to do the best we can.

Eventually society will change again, and so will the balance. At the moment many employers are searching the internet history of potential employees. And probably digging up many youthful indiscretions. This must surely be losing some people jobs. But this is almost certainly a generational thing too. I'm old enough that there was no www when I was a teenager. So many of my generation won't have this kind of stuff floating around there. Also many of my generation would feel it reflected badly on us if it did. But when people who are now 20 are doing the job interviewing, they may themselves have had a drunken/naked/whatever photo go online, and so not give a damn if some potential employee does too.

In one future then, maybe people will feel less need for privacy - and not care so much what's online. In another possible future, this generation that hvae grown up sharing loads of stuff online may suddenly hit 40 and react decisively against the dissemination of this kind of info. And call for massive regulation of the internet, and beefing up of privacy. Or their children may, in reaction to all the stuff about their parents they see online.

When social change, law and politics interact there are no easy answers, often no definitively right answers, and nothing stays the same anyway. Such is life.

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World first: ANIMATED GIF of Mercurian SUN ZOOM from MARS

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Devil

Re: NO! NO GIFs for Commentards!

Zimmer,

But just think how much more accurately this post would reflect your rage and frustration if you could have made it in blinking, bold, colour changing block capitals!

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Devil

If NASA used an animated gif, does this mean they also have heavy use of the blink tag on their website? In which case, if it's good enough for NASA, why can't us commentards have it?

<blink>Pwetty Pwease</blink>

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Snowden's Big Brother isn't as Orwellian as you'd think

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Happy

Re: Typical.

I've got a self-protective filter in my brain that means I stop reading almost any post when I come to certain words. As it's almost certainly going to be drivel, bollocks or self-regarding rubbish. There are exceptions, where someone's gone overboard halfway through a well made argument, but you have to have been making some sense first to get me to keep reading once I meet one of these keywords:

sheeple

LibLabCon

shill

EUSSR

New World Order (though I haven't seen this in a while)

Positive Money

HAARP (another one you don't see much these days)

I'm thinking of adding:

Piketty

bitcoin

fractional reserve banking (which really doesn't mean what some people seem to think it means)

Could someone build a Firefox plugin to automate this, and build a good blacklist? Or maybe have a spam scoring system. So any post that has bitcoin, gold, fractional reserve banking, end of Wester capitalism combined can be filtered out. Admittedly if you operated this, The Telegraph comments sections would suddenly be almost totally empty - the Guardian still appears to have some sane commentards trying to survive in the screaming chaos.

Pluspoints if this filter can also automatically downvote people who call anyone who disagrees with them sheeple of shills.

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The last time I played Pictionary, I had to draw GCHQ. I failed. Or at least my team failed to interpret my scribblings. I thought it was most unfair...

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Terminator

Re: Yeah but what about santa?

He knows if you've been bad or good, and he's got an axe!

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DAMN you El Reg, CALL ME A BOFFIN, demands enraged boffin

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Re: To quote John Wyndham in 'The Kraken Wakes':

I do wish El Reg would let us format text better, so we didn't have to have 2 carriage returns every time. Makes for very long posts.

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To quote John Wyndham in 'The Kraken Wakes':

The Boffin's Lament - or The Lay of the Baffled Boffin

Oh, I'm burning my brains in the backroom,

Almost setting my cortex alight

To find a new thing to go crack-boom!

And blow up a xenobathite,

...

Oh, I've pondered the nuclear thermals

And every conceivable ray.

I've mugged up on technical journals,

And now I'm just starting to pray.

...

What I'd like is the germ of the know-how

To live at five tons per square inch,

Then to bash at the bathies below now

Would verge on the fringe of a cinch.

...

I've scoured above ultra-violet,

I've burrowed around infra-red,

And the -

It's a book I think of often when the term boffin gets discussed on here. I guess John Wyndhams boffins might be a little slow to come up with the goods, but usually get there in the end.

Also found this, while looking for the above silly song. In the Independent: how-the-war-turned-boffins-into-sex-bombs

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Zuckerberg and other directors sued over GIGANTIC PACKAGES

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Re: company directors owe fiduciary duties to deal with the company's assets in an honest way

Facebook really is the Zuck's baby. When they did their IPO he only had something like 10-15% of the shares, but had over 50% of the voting stock. So he can do anything he wants, and can never be overruled by anyone. Or sacked. Therefore if you invest in his company, you can't complain that you didn't know what you were getting into. And if you think he's a total numpty who does things like agree $1 billion deals on his sofa, over a weekend and without telling his board first, then you might want to be wary of giving him your money.

If you buy shares in what is effectively his company, after the board have published those compensation guidelines, then more fool you.

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Apple seeks 'friendly' mouthpiece after losing tight-lipped Cotton spinner – report

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Devil

Apple have already made the appointment. They just haven't released the press release yet. They've appointed Marcel Marceau.

Ant & Dec were on the shortlist, but were eventually rejected. Apple have denied rumours that they were going to appoint Gary Glitter, with the new slogan: D'you wanna be in iGang...

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Trollface

Re: Hmm..

I'd imagine he's sleeping in a coffin in a basement somewhere, until he's needed?

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Facebook's new self-destructing pic app SELF-DESTRUCTS

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Happy

Re: Oi, look -

Yeah, but your Mum's so fat that she has an event horizon.

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Devil

Re: Oi, look -

My Dad went on holiday with my Mum. He took some excellent photos of boobies while he was there, which were so good they went up on the sitting room wall.

Eeeewww. You disgust me! They went to the Galapagos Islands you filthy beast.

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Apple is KILLING OFF BONKING, cries mobe research dude

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The Banks got the chip & pin readers out why hasn't it happened with the Pay by Bonk?

What's in it for the banks?

Chip n Pin is more secure. And means they can try to push the liability onto someone else for fraud. What's not to like?

Pay by bonk might (maybe) make transactions a tiny bit quicker to process for the retailers. But that does nothing for the banks. It also introduces new security worries (either real or imagined), which will be the banks' liabilities.

So I really don't see anything in it for them. I suppose a bit less cash-handling - but they have to do that anyway, and they charge handsomely for it. The only reason for the banks to spend cash on it, is if it looks like someone else is muscling in on their profitable payment processing lark.

So it made sense for the mobile networks. But they're so fucking greedy they make the banks look like charities. As an industry, they're also so incompetent they make the banks look well run. So in their eagerness to grab control and revenue, they scared everyone else away.

Apple might just have the combination of marketing ability, competence and ability to temper their greed to just within what people are willing to put up with, so that this can all happen. But Apple don't seem to care. And I guess that's because the public don't care either.

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Flying cars, submarine cars – Elon Musk says NOTHING is beyond him

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Happy

Re: Shouldn't it be

I think Boing! is an excellent name for a company that builds rockets and aeroplanes.

"This is your captain speaking. I'm afraid all four engines have failed,and we're going to have to make an emergency landing. However, don't worry chaps. This is the new all-rubber constructed Boing 797. Please assume the brace position, stow all trays and belongings, return your seats and stewardesses to the upright position, and prepare for some serious bouncing."

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Look inside ELON MUSK'S CAR! Tesla S wundervehicle has voom

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Flame

Sod this for a lark. What the hell is Musk doing messing around with electric cars?

He should be designing rocket powered cars instead...

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

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Happy

Re: Hmmm...

I'm a bot, and so is my wife.

Not sure about that nice aManFromMars though. I've almost understood a couple of his recent posts. So there's probably been a software upgrade. Whether that's to him, or me, is another question entirely...

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Re: Intelligence on the internet?

Whadda you mean I failed the Turing Test? It's not fair! I HATE YOU!!!!!

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

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Re: It wouldn't matter what you tell 'em...

I have a friend who constantly asks me for this sort of help. But then he fitted my new hob for free. But I don't mind spending time helping genuine friends anyway. My brother's mother-in-law who made herself a cup of tea while I fixed her laptop, and didn't get one for me, hasn't had any help since. She's the only time I've genuinely seen this. I asked, "I know this is a stupid question, but is it plugged in?" And it wasn't.

Anyway no.1 friend is a very funny man. He used to do stand-up as a bit of a sideline. And he's done MC-ing and comedy for various events and fund-raisers for well over 30 years. One of the acts he's been doing forever is a magician act. Well to be honest it's a stand-up act. The schtick is that the props haven't arrived, so he tells you how good the tricks would have been - jokes. The magic is basically an excuse to put on a silly italian accent, and wear a cape.

So he's at a party and someonone who's known him as long as me, and has seen this act over ten times, comes over to him. "I'd just like to introduce this chap, he's looking for a magician for an event, and you do that."

He's a cabinet maker/furniture designer and yes, they all get asked for help by friends/acquaintances too. Along with plumbers, sparks, mechanics, doctors.

I wonder if police do? "I've just stolen this TV - would you mind nicking me in your spare time?"

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Deploy a fake Bitcoin wallet to save your own

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Re: Bitcoin...

Mark .,

As I see it, the problem for Bitcoin is that it's currently driven by several competing interests. But it can't be all things to all men and succeed.

Some people want it as an easy way of making small payments online. For that it would be perfectly fine, without the current massive volatility that makes it basically useless for this. Also the transaction costs in and out of Bitcoin are no different than those of using the right (zero loaded for currency exchange) credit card. At least for those with cheap modern banking, the currency costs aren't that high for a quick bank transfer. I used to do it when I lived abroad, and it wasn't that bad. It was actually cheaper to move my cash from the UK to the Eurozone (including exchange rate) - than it was to transfer it between Belgian and German accounts.

Bitcoin probably works quite well as a micropayment method though, which I guess will never be worth it for the banks/card companies. However even this breaks down as soon as all the coins are mined. At this point, transactions are no longer being paid for with free money, but by the miners getting a small percentage of every transaction. That's also going to make Bitcoin compete far less well for any kind of payment processing.

Then you've got the "gold-bugs". The types who tell you that Bitcoin is an investment. Just hold onto those coins, and as the artificial constraints on supply kick in, you get rich. Hooray! Now I'm pretty sure I remember you posting this sort of comment a while ago. Although not recently. Sorry if that's a failure of my memory, I'm too lazy to read back through old posts to check. Anyway these guys are the block that stops making Bitcoin work for the others. As they cause volatility. And thus make Bitcoin unsuitable for normal transactions. The Winklevoss twins and their weird idea of the Bitcoin ETF...

Finally we've got the drug dealers and tax avoiders. They obviously cause problems with getting government acceptance. Also if you create a system to avoid government, then you lose the good things about government, like laws and police. They just want to process transactions, so should be the friends of the normal users. But like the scorpion and the frog, they need the other people to help them hide their transactions, but it's in the nature of the scorpion to sting the frog. And it's in the nature of the criminal to steal, and thus destroy the value of the Bitcoin system for other users, and then themselves.

The value of something is not a feature that can be set or controlled by the developers

They did though. They created Bitcoin to only allow a limited number to exist. Thus creating the conditions that they themselves then took advantage of, by getting the first cheaply mined bitcoin. That's what makes it a pyramid scheme. And in my view is the reason it'll eventually fail.

As an example, look at the recent $200 rise in price. Suddendly lots of coins have been bought. No more are being sold than before. That means that these coins are probably being held as investments. I say this, because no-one is paid in bitcoin. Therefore they need to sell some, to buy things like raw materials for the stuff they're selling. Obviously this is only an educated guess, as there are no proper figures collected to say what the actual bitcoin economy is doing. Another good thing that governments do that builds confidence. Every time the value goes up in a huge jump, it's because of huge flows of cash into the bitcoin economy, with no real change in the normal level of selling. That's from looking at the last 2-3 years records on Bitcoincharts. That makes it a bubble.

They "investors" are causing volatility, without actually growing the bitcoin economy. When these guys stop buying more, basically doubling-down on their existing holdings to maintain the value, then confidence will collapse. That will probably be the end of bitcoin. Of course, once they've buggered off, people could just use bitcoin for transactions. And slowly build back confidence. But the design problem is still there. So once the trust is painfully recovered, people will start hoarding them as an investment, and start the whole cycle again.

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Pint

Re: Bitcoin...

Sir Spuncible Rooney,

Ah yes. It's Friday. Beer ahoy!

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Happy

Re: Bitcoin...

Sir Spoonable Runcie,

Whooosh! Ooops oh dear. It would seem that your superior, not to say l33t, interwebs skills have defeated me.

I shall now change my opinion, and say that Bitcoin is great! Buy more Bitcoins! They've gone up from $450 to $650 in the last 2 weeks!* This isn't volatility! It's the inevitable take-off in value of the new coming thing!

* This is sadly true, according to Bitcoincharts.

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Re: Bitcoin...

Sir Runcible Spoon,

Bitcoin isn't doing badly because of big bad government. It's doing badly because of massive volatility, and big bad scammers. Along with other reasons.

Also, who's to say they can't print more of it? All it takes a few of the right people to get onto the committee, or bribe the people already on it - and hey presto there could be a quick update and new coins ahoy! For the good of the system of course.

As happens, that built in deflation is one of the main flaws, so printing more might do them some good, once they're all mined. Assuming it's lasted that long.

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Plucky Playmonaut bails out of smoking Vulture 2

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Re: Which bit failed?

Testing? Testing!

Oi Mods! Over here! Someone's swearing over here. Ummmm. You should tell them off...

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Happy

After bricking it, the Playmonaut would be off for a few beers, and then to get his legover with some young lady with nice dimples, at the bar.*

A few technicolour yawns later. Then his hangover recovery would be some nice Danish bacon.

I think I'm out of Lego puns at this point.

* Why didn't you include a reconstruction of this bit - it could have been like 'The Right Stuff'? One of my favourite films / books.

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Happy

Uh oh! The puns are coming any second now. Duck!

[I, of course, would never stoop so low.]

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

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Re: A new 80% tax on the rich would be a complete waste of time

No idea. I wasn't trying to argue that the rich don't avoid taxes. I was arguing that the rich don't avoid all taxes. Perhaps I should have highlighted that fact before, so my downvoter might have realised that I was simply injecting some facts into the discussion.

There may be a problem of wealth inequality in Britain. There may be a problem of tax evasion/avoidance. But even the rich will end paying some tax. Apart from anything else, VAT is often harder to avoid. Although there are always ways.

One of the problems is that the figures are hard to gather. People who are avoiding paying tax, tend to be a touch shy about it - so it's hard to judge how much.

One thing that's pretty much a nailed on certainty though is that you can't tax all of it. When some left wing think tank comes out and says there are a few hundred billion (or even trillion) of untaxed cash sitting somewhere, so all we need to do is tax it and cancel income tax for a year (or spend), you know they're living in la-la land. There are certainly things to do to capture more money. However unless it's sitting under a mattress somewhere, all money is doing someothing. So if you tax it, you'll lose whatever it was doing out of the economy, thus someone else won't have a taxable income to pay taxes from.

Like the Tobin tax enthusiasts who were saying that there was €200 billion in free money out there for the EU - just for the governments to spend. Yummy! Even though the actual tax proposed was only supposed to raise €35 bn odd, and they've had to scale that back becuase the EU Commission report on it says that it'll destroy more in GDP than it raises. Also they were going to tax transactions on Eurozone government debt, which might well have been the straw that broke the camel's back and broke the Euro. So the new proposal exempts bonds and is now an order of magnitude less on shares, so I guess it'll be a lot of effort to raise a couple of billion.

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Re: Not sure I agree

The argument is totally valid. Because the argument here isn't "there's no problem of wealth inequality". At least he's not making that in this article.

The point is that we're already dealing with the problem of wealth inequality with the following measures: NHS, education, benefits, pensions. Thefore you can't write a big old book talking about how awful wealth inequality is, and call for more measures to solve it, if you ignore the measures that have already been enacted.

Basically you can't take some subset of data in isolation and draw conclusions about how society should be run from it.

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I've not read Mr Piketty's book. I do rather like his name though. Ignoring the whiff of scandal from racy French politics, Thomas Piketty et Aurelie Filippetti. Piketty Filippetti, Filippetti, Piketty...

Anyway the question I wanted to ask of those who have, is how much has our french friend accounted for emerging markets in his global inequality? For example how many Russian and Chinese billionaires are there, who've got their cash out of the weird and unsustainable way the countries are run. There have been a few billionaire dictators over the years, shoving all the cash into Swiss banks and hideously kitsch palaces (I'm looking at you Saddam Hussein, Yanukovych and Ghadaffi).

But have we ever had the emergence of such a huge class of klepto-billionaires before? Everyone knows about the Russian lot, and to a lesser extent in Ukraine, Azerbaijan etc. But some of the figures for what the top echelons of the Chinese communist party are stealing (not to mention the rumours about Putin) - are truly mind-boggling! Also the wealth built up by a very small group of people in a few oil-rich countries (often with tiny populations) is a relatively recent thing. That together is from multiple hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars of moolah, suddenly in a very few hands - but is also quite unusual. And is enough to have major material effects on any analysis of global wealth inequality.

It's not capitalism that allows single individuals to get rich in these particular ways - that requires government.

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Re: A new 80% tax on the rich would be a complete waste of time

The rich don't avoid all taxes.

Of UK income tax the top 1% of earners contribute 25% of all government income tax receipts.

If you widen that to the top 10% of income earners, they cover 53.3% of all UK income tax receipts.

Those figures are from 2008-9, I believe that the top earners are paying a bit more than that now, partly due to the changes in the tax thresholds.

Sadly I couldn't find more up-to-date figures that I've seen, or the proper data on the ONS site (which is a nightmare to search), so this'll have to do: BBC linky

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Happy

Re: Sod It

Is that supposed to be a streak, a stake, or a steak?

Can I have the surf 'n turf please? I'll have a 12oz rump steak with the head of Alex Salmond...

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Chris Wareham,

Which averages? Have you chosen median or mean? This really matters when you have huge outliers - like in London house prices.

One of the reasons London house prices went up so much during the bust is that cheap stuff had gone down in value, partly because there weren't any buyers due to lack of mortgages. But there's loads of foreign money going in to £10m places in Park Lane, and they're buying for cash.

Also, I believe that Rightmove report asking prices, not actual selling prices. Which the papers love, because they're higher. Offer prices are up by 15-25% in the last year in my SE market town, but of the actual selling prices I've seen the move has been just a few percent.

Admittedly there has been a bubble in house prices. But I'm not sure how much that's down to wealth inequality, or if it's down to a massive increase in demand for housing in the South East. We've had historically high levels of immigration for the last 15 years, low interest rates, decreasing household sizes (both parties in a divorce often buying somewhere, for example), and house-building hasn't been growing to match demand. People don't like stuff being built near them - and many British people don't seem to like living in flats, in the way the rest of Western Europe do. Hence the flat market actually started to crash in 2005-6, before the banks and housing market did.

In my opinion one of Gordon Brown and Ed Balls many mistakes was moving from RPI to CPI inflation. When the history of the recent boom is written I think it'll show that most people stopped getting better off before the turn of the century, because housing costs were rising too much further than incomes - and yet people were being told an inflation rate that didn't include housing costs - the biggest cost most of us have to cover in our lives. I said it was a bad policy at the time, but the press seemed to absolutely adore Brown for some reason. He could do no wrong back then. I was rather sad to see the Conservatives not reversing it, but apparently Osborne asked the Bank of England to look at sorting this in some way in 2010 - can't see him doing it in a pre-election budget though.

Average incomes have been falling since 2005. I'd love to see some good figures that measure disposable income after taxes, bills and housing for the last 40 years.

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Re: The more it changes...

Zog,

The City does many things. Some of them great, some of them average, some of them rubbish.

For example, with high frequency trading you can get all three. In a lot of cases, HFT performs a service to the market as a whole, by making transactions cheaper and quicker, and by increasing price transparency. There are various arguments why some of the HFT mob aren't performing a service, because they pull liquidity out of the market - and therefore why this might only be left to traditional 'market makers'. But in general it's not just coin-clipping.

One of the arguments I have very little patience for is the ones who say we can ignore the markets - because they're just being evil capitalists when they threaten us. This often goes with the narrative of 'markets attacking something'. It also often comes from people very hostile to the markets, but who want their money.

Take the example of the Eurozone. We had much smugness from our European friends when the US and our sub-prime markets crashed. I particularly remember Sarkozy, who'd said things about how he wanted to be the French Thatcher, and make the french economy more Anlgo-Saxon. But later moved into deriding the nasty anglo-saxon capitalist pigdogs - obviously for the easy popularity. The London markets were now a nasty parasite, and should be punished. This was a common theme from EU politics, although I particularly remember Sarko, few had been enthusiastic about the nasty anglo-saxons before the crash either.

Yet when it looked like the Euro might collapse, and so international finance was running away from European government debt as fast as its little legs would carry it - the very same people criticised the markets for 'attacking them'. When actually the markets were doing what they should have done - getting their clients' money out of Dodge. Well actually they shouldn't have lent it in the first place, but that was an equal failure of Eurozone politicians lying about how much they'd support the Euro, and markets for believing them.

So no, you shouldn't pray to the markets five times a day. Nor should you be too ready to listen them when they advise you on what to do, as it's bound to be self-interested. But on the other hand, you can't ignore them and ask them to give you loads of money, at one and the same time.

In the Brown Boom, I believe the City was providing something like 13% of our tax base. That ought to get them a little say in how the economy was run. Although with some wariness that this was an obvious bubble, so would drop. But equally, even though we're now not happy with them, the UK government is still borrowing over £100 billion per year, so if we don't keep at least some of them sweet, they may tell us to get stuffed. This can be overstated. Financial institutions are forced to hold government debt, for various reasons. But everything is fine, until faith is lost, and then it's very much not fine, and can go from fine to disaster in days. See the Eurozone for details. The Euro has been days from collapse at least twice now. Probably several more times, when the histories of the last minute crisis meetings get written up.

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YOU - NASA. Enough with the ROBOTS, get some PEOPLE to MARS

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Black Helicopters

I know we've already been there, but I'm pretty sure a MOON BASE would be something people could get behind.

Moosh,

I think you'll find there's been a moon base for ages. Unfortunately there was an accident 15 years ago (in 1999) and the base was lost. Actually so was the moon, but there's been a satellite flying round ever since with a big white disk on it to avoid panic.

Fortunately that wasn't in the files that Edward Snowden had access to, so the public have never found out.

Ooops! How do I delete this thing! What's that noise? That helicopter sounds really loud. Almost like it's hovering overh...

...

...

...

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IBM, HP, others admit products laced with NORK GOLD

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Devil

Boooo!

Globalisation has never brought me any pandas! And now I want to know why. Where's my bloody panda?

I'll have mine medium rare with chips please...

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Indie record labels to haul YouTube before the European Commission

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Re: Old school here

Khaptain,

Perhaps French radio is better than I'd thought from a casual listen then. I still remember the horror or Belgian radio from when I lived there. I was scanning with the digital tuner, working out what stations were available in Brussels and the first words I heard after I'd started the search were, "and now we're going to have 2 hours of the music of Johnny Hallyday!"

All I could find was Flemish metal / heavy rock stations, much Europop and dance and not a lot else.

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Get ready for Europe's ROBO-BUTLERS: Billions of €€€s pledged to electro-slave dream

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Happy

Re: Agricultural robots?

dogged,

Don't forget to include:

Robots that can shout, "ger off my land!"

Robots that can wave a shotgun at hikers

Robots to say, "oooh aaarr, you 'ave twenty seconds to comply!"

Robots that can go down to the Bull for a well earned pint, and complain about that Brian Aldridge...

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Spammer sprung to run Russian national payment system

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Happy

Re: Going Postal ...

But just you try getting a button sewn back on...

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US bloke raises $250k to build robo-masturbation device

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Happy

Ivy Biggun?

Ivy Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts?

Ivy-ever blowing bubbles...

[that's enough of that! - Ed]

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The enemy of my enemy is my, well, temporary ally: Apple and Microsoft in pact against Google

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Terminator

Re: OneDrive...

They should have kept the Sky bit, which Murdoch sued over but everyone remembered and dropped the Drive. SkyNet would have been a great name for their service.

Although (rather worryingly) the MOD have a satellite comms system called Skynet. What could possibly go wrong?

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Re: Noboby uses Bing for a good reason

Apple Maps fiasco all over again.

Firstly I don't think Bing's all that bad. Oh, except Bing maps. Which I used a few times on my old Nokia Lumia, and sucked. Fortunately I had HERE maps from Nokia, so it didn't matter. I've been using Bing occasionally for the last few months - and it doesn't seem to be all that different. One of these days I might change my default search to it, but although it doesn't seem any worse, it also doesn't seem any better.

As for the Apple Maps fiasco, didn't Google force that on Apple? As I recall they wouldn't license voice navigation to them, so the iPhone would no longer have been able to operate as a sat-nav.

Given all the advantages of keeping the iPhone customers (all that lovely data), the cash from Apple, and avoiding the risk of looking too monopolistic, that always looked like a rather short-sighted decision from Google. One they may come to regret now.

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REVEALED: GCHQ's BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE

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Re: The bigger question

Perhaps it's belated revenge for Burgess, McLean and Philby?

It does seem odd that this stuff was supposedly gleaned from an open wiki style site, and yet is supposed to be above top secret. As I understand it, there's loads of stuff above top secret, but it's supposed to be shown to people cleared on a more individual basis.

Given how many people are likely to have known about these bases, I'd have thought they'd be below top secret, as the FCO, MOD, SIS and GCHQ would know, not to mention BT and Cable & Wireless (or whoever owns them now).

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Re: TRAITORS

You should be more disgusted at the laziness of modern intelligence gathering, if the only way to find out what is going on it the work nowadays is to capture everything and hope you find something useful, then the spies have a lot to answer for!

Callam McMillan,

Reading other people's mail is a long and dishonourable tradition in government circles. And is often an excellent way of finding out what's going on. By-and-large it's also a great way to find things out that doesn't risk getting people killed. Whereas spying, in the 'James Bond' sense of wandering around where you're not supposed to be, is rather risky. In the case of the more common type, which is mostly legally resident 'diplomatic' staff recruiting locals for information - the risk varies by the regime you're spying on. But there are plenty or governments who execute traitors.

So to give some examples. Kim Philby betrayed pretty much all of Britain's Cold War intelligence networks in Eastern Europe. I remember reading that between 50 and 200 of those people were shot. I've seen rumours from multiple sources that the GRU burned Oleg Penkovsky alive, after he'd handed over intel on Soviet nuclear readiness during the Cuban Missile crisis. That could just be a myth to frighten others of course.

Despite all the attempts at spying though, I can't remember much in the way of political intelligence from either the Cold War or WWII. Admittedly the US may have been doing rather well at spying on microwave relays, so we may have done better in the late Cold War. But if you read a book like 'The Secret State' (by Peter Hennessey), it's both fascinating and terrifying how little the Western governments knew about Soviet politics and intentions.

You can find out lots from looking at stuff. What the military are up to, and what kit they have. What facilities have been built. But that only tells you what a state can do or is doing. Not what it will do, or intends. Hence we 'knew' Saddam had WMD, because we'd found loads of it in the 90s, and only destroyed some of it. But we had no political intel, to tell us he'd apparently decided it wasn't worth it and had got rid of it. Which was a costly mistake.

We also know that Iran has a nuclear program. But I've no idea what intel we have on why they've got it, and whether they intend to bargain it away, build it for safety, or even use it.

The great thing about reading internal government documents, is that you get to find out what the government are really thinking. And saying to each other. It's quite rare to find people at that level willing to spy. And even harder to get access to them. We spent the latter part of WWII reading lots of the German HQ-level traffic, and this gave a much more useful idea of what they were up to, than you can guess from looking at where troops are actually based.

Not that I'm defending reading ordinary peoples' mail. But spying on foriegn governments is what we have intelligence services for. And I'm perfectly happy for that to include allies like Angela Merkel. The German government's position on various global and European issues is vital to British national interests. And no nation with a foreign intelligence service itself has any right to complain too much when it gets spied on. Well the game is, you complain loudly for a bit, for appearances, and maybe get some concessions, then go back to business as usual.

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Lupita Nyong'o, Game of Thrones' Brienne join Star Wars cast

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Happy

Re: I'm glad...

Hopefully soon SpaceX will make things so cheap, that a $300m film can afford to use real spaceships...

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Devil

It's worse than that. In this story, after the Empire fell, the subsequent Rebel government collapsed into infighting. With only one Jedi on hand, there was only one force unified enough to bring peace and order to the galaxy. Thus the Ewoks have taken over, and are now running everything. They've used their power in government to make sure that 80% of all newly trained Jedi are Ewoks - and are thus inescapable.

After all, if Abrams gave us tribbles in the new Star Trek, what's to stop him going all cute and Ewok-tabulous in Star Wars?

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New development in 'stadium-sized' FLYING SAUCER orb invasion

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Happy

Re: Hope it all...

Lester,

Are you suffereing from 'rocket-envy'? Or even 'balloon-envy', given that you could launch something truly huge with one of those.

I've been trying my best to come up with a backronym for stratospheric hypersonic inflatable braking apparatus which relates to Bulgarian airbags in some way, but my brain has failed me. Such that I feel a complete tit...

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